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How to slow down, take stock and be grateful

Another year is screaming to an end and it is so easy to get caught up in the “busy-ness” of end-of-year commitments and deadlines (many of which are boss-imposed or maybe even self-imposed). Then you fall into the holidays exhausted, stressed and possibly even sick. Maybe you get a chance to have a break or maybe the holidays are even more stressful because the kids are home from school (and bored or fighting) and you are trying to catch up with family and friends before rushing back to work to do it all again.

In all this craziness, I just want to remind you to take a few minutes to slow down, take stock and be grateful for all that you have.

Maybe even spend some time writing these things down (I think this somehow gives them more gravitas or meaning and forces you to really think about what you are putting down on paper).

Start by answering the following questions:

What are 5 things you are grateful for right now?

Thinking about this helps you to focus on what’s really important to you. Perhaps your health, health of your family, having good friends, a roof over your head etc.

What were the highlights of your past 12 months?

This is a list of all those fabulous moments. They could be big, like the birth of a child, or small like seeing a memorable movie or a beautiful bloom on your favourite plant. It doesn’t matter what they were. What matters is that this list is an important reminder of the wonderful things that have happened (and sometimes we might need reminders to help us appreciate just how fortunate we are).

What were the tough moments and how did you get through them?

Life is not all fun and laughter. We all experience difficult periods. It could be illness, death of a loved one, loss of a job, the end of a relationship or something else that is upsetting for you. Despite the awfulness of the situation, chances are you have somehow come through the tough time, or at least are moving through it. It’s worth remembering that these times do pass (even though you may not or should not forget them) and you can be proud of the fact you are still standing. You are resilient!

What’s on your “done” list?

If, like me, your “to do” list seems never ending I find it useful to do a “done” list. When I start to feel overwhelmed at all the things I “should” be doing or would like to do, I take a moment to remind myself of the things I have actually managed to achieve by writing my “done” list.

As we come to the end of another year, I really hope you will take a moment to pause and reflect on all that you have achieved and all that you are grateful for. Even better, write it down and really acknowledge the good stuff.

And if you are keen to have a better year next year (even if this has been a good year) I encourage you to take a moment to pause and contemplate how you want next year to play out for you.

If you want some guidance as to how to do that, start by answering the following questions:

Do I want my health to be better than it is now?

I start with the health question because health impacts every other aspect of your life. If you want to do this yourself, ask yourself precisely what you want and why. Be specific. Then ask yourself “what do I need to do to get it?”

For my clients, I often encourage them to revisit their health goals. How do they want to feel from a health perspective at the end of the next 12 months? We can then map out some strategies to help them achieve those goals. Maybe they are to do with sleep habits, weight management, exercise, stress management, pain and discomfort, better eating, improved immunity or something else. It’s important to remember… it is never too late and no step is too small.

Do I want to be doing this same job in 12 months’ time?

If not, what job do you want? What do you need to do to get it? New skills? New resume? Make the effort to get out of your comfort zone and apply for jobs? Risk rejection but keep going anyway?

Am I happy with my financial position?

The ex-accountant in me loves a spreadsheet. I like to keep track of income and expenses and I think it’s an important life-skill to develop (and it doesn’t really have to be in a spreadsheet if you don’t want). You need to know what you spend your money on so you can prioritise the things that are most important to you.

Am I happy with my relationships?

Can you look at your relationships with your partner, kids, family, friends and say that you are happy with them? Or do some of them either need some care and attention or perhaps letting go? If you don’t want these relationships to wither, you have to really nurture them. There is no other way.

Am I content?

It’s a simple question but a very powerful one. The answer is either yes or no. And of course, you need to think about why you chose that answer. If you are not content, what needs to change and what are you going to do about it? Is it your attitude or outlook that needs to change? Is it your beliefs or values? Do you need to make a plan to change some things in your life?

Being content releases you from a whole heap of pressure and expectation so you can enjoy your life as it is and how it is unfolding for you.

What do you think? Can you spare some time to slow down, take stock and create the life you want?
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